Partial summary judgment granted to Illinois Bell Telephone, others in contract dispute

By Charmaine Little | Feb 1, 2019

ST. LOUIS – A federal court has ruled in favor of local telephone companies and awarded partial summary judgment in regard to damages based on certain invoices in a dispute with competitive local exchange carriers.

U.S. District Judge John A. Ross of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division awarded partial summary judgment on Jan. 24. He also ruled to deny the plaintiff's motion for reconsideration.

Ross said plaintiffs Level 3 Communications LLC and Broadwing Communications LLC waited a little too long to file their motion for reconsideration of a July order, especially since they had lots of time to do so before. 

“Plaintiffs have had ample opportunity in this litigation to present their arguments regarding the limitations period applicable to their claims when the court addressed the merits of defendants’ affirmative defenses,” Ross wrote. “Now, plaintiffs assert new grounds for their assertion that a number of their claims are not time-barred under the (interconnection agreements). However, these arguments could, and should, have been raised when the court was making its determination in Phase I on liability.”

As for the motion for summary judgment, Ross determined the defendants are owed this thanks to invoices they issued to Level 3 with bill dates that were prior to a particular date in question.

Level 3 Communications LLC and Broadwing Communications LLC sued Illinois Bell Telephone Co., Indiana Bell Telephone Co. Inc., Michigan Bell Telephone Co., et al. in the contract dispute. The defendants are incumbent local telephone companies or incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) while the plaintiffs are competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs).

The plaintiffs and defendants joined forces at one point via bilateral interconnection agreements (ICAs) where a defendant would give a plaintiff an interconnection that complies with the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The plaintiffs sued the defendants over allegations that the defendants violated the ICAs when they charged plaintiffs for use of entrance facilities at a fee that was higher than the lower cost-based rates. The defendants then argued that the lawsuit wasn’t timely.

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